In recent years Apple's profits have soared on wave after wave of portable devices, but the company owes much of its current success to a failed PDA launched in 1993 during some of Apple's leanest times. Despite its groundbreaking design, touchscreen with handwriting recognition, and internal modem add-on, the Newton's $700 price tag and notoriously buggy software led to years of slow sales (and an infamous reference on The Simpsons). So it came as no big surprise when Steve Jobs eventually axed the project after returning in 1997 to whip the company back into shape. As it turns out, nearly a decade later Jobs revisited the scene of the crime to reinvent the PDA for the internet age, and wound up with a few devices that would have made the Newton proud: the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Rojas and Block are the founders of gdgt, a social gadget site helping users get better answers and product reviews.
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